Social media is currently being used by a wide range of organizations across all industries as well as government institutions and non-profit organizations for branding, marketing, customer engagement and public relations.  The Technology Gurus are saying that social media will no longer be an option this year, it will be a necessity!   Many businesses get this and use social media to promote brand awareness and engage prospects because it’s affordable and more effective compared to other marketing tactics.   BUT we do forget that social media requires a solid strategy if you are to reap the rewards on offer for businesses. The objectives for business are the same regardless of your Industry or Brand name, BUT the strategy and plan may be different.

Here are five tips to help you get started on a successful social media campaign:

1. Define Your Objectives and Goals

It’s important to define goals for your social media marketing and business objectives upfront to help you stay on track and not lose focus. A good business objective should be specific, concrete and measurable to enable you to evaluate the impact of social efforts. Ask yourself why you are launching a social media campaign in the first place to help you identify your main objectives. Do you want to engage your customers and prospects? Promote brand awareness? Increase web traffic? Generate new leads or improve conversions? These are some of the main reasons companies are turning to social media marketing according to the eMarketer survey.

Ignoring this important step makes your social media marketing plan susceptible to failures or poor performance. Don’t forget it can take time to really start to gain momentum.  Identify what will make you stand out from the competition and capitalize on it.

2. Determine Your Target Audience

Consider researching consumers’ behaviour to help you identify your customers and future prospects. Plug in demographic data, buying trends, interests, profession and factors to determine your target audience. Because you don’t want to put too much effort engaging an audience that will not bring value to your business. Concentrate your social effort on a segment of hot leads for you to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Don’t forget to check this against the Insights that Facebook and other platforms give you so that you ensure you are actually talking to the right people!

3. Identify the Right Social Media Platforms

There are over 200 social media platforms, and there is no way we can be fully active on all of them, so choose just a few that will help connect you with your target market!  Choosing a suitable social media network for your campaign can be an enormous undertaking with so many social platforms to choose from, it’s also not realistic to use all of them since your business may only benefit from using one or two networks. Currently, the major social networks used by business owners include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

Most big brands use multiple networks to run their social media campaigns including social bookmarking sites, slide shares and micro blogging sites. You should identify and use only the social platform or platforms that will give you the best results for your efforts.  (Remembering that factors such as target audience and the type of business should be considered when selecting a social media site. Statistics indicate most B2B companies tend to use Google+ and Twitter while B2C businesses tend to use Facebook).

You can start with one social network if have a small or medium size business and later expand to other social sites once your marketing strategy is running smoothly.

4. Define Content Type and Schedule 

Social media is all about interacting and engaging with people. Therefore, try to reach out to the audience in your community using your own unique voice and personality. It’s important to engage your audience in real conversations regularly to familiarize them with your company culture and brand personality. Keep conversations alive by posting regular updates such as comments, photos, videos, cartoons and anything else that will make your customers see you as more of a person than just a corporate entity (don’t forget these are SOCIAL NETWORKS).

Consider setting up a Conversational Calendar – what you will talk about and focus on each month, or a monthly plan to help you plan what you will post about.   This helps remove the guesswork out of your social marketing plan by introducing order and strategy.  You can plan your social content schedule for a whole month to include conversation themes, content type and target audience.

5. Define Success Metrics

Your social media strategy will not be complete without a system to measure the impact of your marketing campaign. Identify KPI (Key Performance Indicators) to help you determine the effectiveness of your social media marketing effort and ROI (Return On Investment). Your KPI can be your objective such as increased traffic, new leads, 10 000 Facebook likes etc. You need to define your success metrics so you can determine if your social efforts and investment are bearing fruit, where to improve or if you should stop social media marketing altogether. The measurement tools that you use to determine your performance include Google AnalyticsHootsuiteRow FeederViral HeatSpout Social, Facebook Insight and TweetReach, and the Insights and monitoring tools that Facebook and Youtube for example actually offer.

A solid social media strategy is a necessity for all companies including small and medium sized businesses because a well designed social strategy will give you clear guidance on how to handle every aspect of your social media marketing such as the content editorial calendar, how to start and maintain conversations? What type of content to post? Which platform to use and how to reach out to prospects on the social media?

Once you have a social media strategy in place, every else will fall into place as you execute your marketing campaign.

Till next time… Nic Jones